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Serbia Shouldn’t Back ‘Illegal’ Kosovo Forces, U.S. Says

Serbia should end its “illegal” security presence and judicial entities in northern Kosovo where the Serb minority is concentrated, as the two states hold European Union-mediated talks, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Philip Gordon said.

The partition of Kosovo “is not an option,” Gordon said of the northern Kosovo territory bordering Serbia, where supervision by the U.S.-led International Steering Group ends in September. Troops from the European Union Rule of Law Mission, or EULEX, and NATO’s Kosovo Force, or KFOR, will remain in northern Kosovo after September.

“Serbia will have to come to terms with the reality of a democratic, sovereign, independent and multi-ethnic Kosovo within its current borders,” Gordon, the top U.S. State Department official for European and Eurasian Affairs, said today in a speech in Dubrovnik, Croatia. “We can and will help with this process.”

Gordon travels to the capitals of Serbia and Kosovo tomorrow where he is scheduled to meet with newly elected Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic and Premier-designate Ivica Dacic.

Slobodan Milosevic

Dacic heads the Socialists, the third-biggest party in the Serbian parliament. The group was once led by late President Slobodan Milosevic, who died in prison while on trial at the international court in The Hague, Netherlands, for war crimes. Dacic was asked by Nikolic to put together a cabinet following an unsuccessful attempt by former President Boris Tadic to stay in power as premier after losing presidential elections in May.

Tadic also arrived in Dubrovnik today at a Croatian summit attended by southeastern European heads of governments.

Gordon responded to comments last month by Nikolic about the execution of 7,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys by Bosnian Serbs at a United Nations safe area in July 1995. While acknowledging the deaths in Srebrenica, Nikolic said that the incident shouldn’t be described as genocide.

“Historical revisionism will not succeed and will not be tolerated,” Gordon said today.

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